Cybele

Cybele of Lake Chitali

Cybele (si-bill-ee), named for an Anatolian goddess (also known as the Magna Mater, or “great mother”), is a genderless water creature that dwells in Lake Chitali, at the outskirts of the Land of Lo.

It is considered, like most Lodians, a hybrid of plant and animal, and cannot survive out of the water. It has three stages of transformation: pod (much like larva, attached to the parent), juvenile (free-floating), and parent (rooted).

Pods develop at the end of hundreds of tendrils protruding from the parent, and are released by the force of the next generation growing behind them. This gestation process takes seven years. The small size of a released pod increases the potential of being eaten by other water creatures, or other such demise.

Surviving free-floating Cybele (juvenile) continue to float on a 70-year long expedition to gain insight and knowledge that extends beyond any other creature in the Land of Lo. This is possible because each generation of pods absorbs the knowledge of the parent, and it continues through life only to add more. Not all water creatures in Lake Chitali are water-bound, and many bring tales of adventure from the shore. Assimilating those stories with its profound intuition, a juvenile Cybele develops vicarious experiences.

Mature Cybele end their journey after 70 years, by swallowing a large golden pearl created from the song of Ko the giant oyster, Claviger of Pearls, then sinking to the bottom. Fortified by the pearl’s energy, they take root, and sprout the tendrils that will start bearing their own pods. Once it becomes a parent, it creates thousands of offspring in the remainder of its lifetime.

Pods possess a strong incandescent light glow that changes colors according to emotions being transferred telepathically. Pink means love, green means confidence, red means fear, and so on. It is because of these translatable lights that adult Cybele are considered oracles. They are often visited by travelers on a quest to find meaning or guidance in their lives.

Seekers must swallow a pearl themselves in order to find the Cybele. To find a golden pearl, the only kind that allows the bearer access to the deep underwater realm of Lake Chitali, they must first find Nacre, the Mother of Pearls, who actually lives by a stream in Lodila Valley. She will bestow the proper “golden ticket” upon those she deems worthy, and give them precise instructions on how to find the oracle.

The seeker will follow those instructions, which includes swallowing the golden pearl, and finds the Cybele, presenting it with a question. At this time, the creature begins channeling emotion to provoke thoughts of logic and new perspective in the seeker. The Cybele then absorbs the life experience of the seeker, through a tendril that connects with the pearl in their body, and provides the “answer” they need, in exchange.

Once the pearl’s energy has been fully absorbed, and the seeker has reached revelation and epiphany, they are then released to float back to the surface, equipped with the new insight. Odis, the giant octopus, Claviger of Waves, ensures the floating seekers are returned safely to shore.

For example, a seeker may have lived an empty life of loneliness, never having experienced true contentment of genuine love from another, and may be consulting the Cybele oracle as a last hope for answers as to why this has happened to them. Upon approaching the Cybele, the large tendril will reach out to the seeker and touch its heart glow from the pearl they swallowed. The pods will then respond with pink glowing lights, and the seeker will experience pure and genuine love for the first time.

That emotion will provide a realization that they have not encountered before – perhaps a dear friend whose affections were dismissed is pointed out to them – and they will be released to float back, knowing they must embrace the love being offered, in order to feel that emotion again.

Someone who has lived a life of complacency and servitude may be provoked to feel anger, and be inspired to change their situation for the better, and so on. Anyone may seek answers, as often as they wish, as long as they have swallowed a pearl. The experience is quite intense, so most Lodians only need one to set their lives on the right course.

Summertime

My father died in March. Due to the COVID restrictions at the time, his Celebration of Life gathering was held today, when folks are feeling freer to remove their masks, and the sun was shining bright over Two Lights.

My father was a deaf man, and his family and friends are largely part of the deaf or HOH community. Without anyone to speak ASL with me to keep it fresh in my mind, I lost my ability to talk to my father. We had a fairly estranged relationship, with my parents’ divorce at age 5 leaving me in full custody of my mother. I rarely saw him after that, and when I did, it was usually a surprise visit, resulting in an outing to a restaurant, being given money or gifts, and awkward communication. My mother would sometimes reveal her true feelings around how much I wanted to see him, in a slippery way that kept her clean. Theirs wasn’t a true love, it was two young people trying to perform roles they weren’t ready for. She made it clear that there was no love involved, on her part, ever.

I grew up being prevented from processing my feelings, so none of them ever went away. I was the “crybaby”. I sucked my thumb. I missed my father. He cried when he hugged me, for years. I remember loving him, I remember him teasing me, and I remember the day we left.

I was told to call my stepfather “Dad” in order to avoid confusing my new brother, when I was 10. My father became “Big Roland”, stripped of a father title entirely. My brother, Roland, who is the third, barely knew our father at all, and only knows the stories my mother has chosen to share. When my father did visit, my mother sat at the kitchen table and spoke with him, using ASL, and I never knew what they said. We were often shooed into the living room or to play outside, as if he had come to visit her, and not his children.

I believe my mother thought she was protecting us, but she was really still trying to protect herself. Trauma is a powerful experience that can change you forever, and whether or not is for the better is up to you. The important thing is to try not to traumatize others in your process. I lost the opportunity to have a real relationship with my father, who could have been a very good one. He was, to his other children. Hearing their stories, and seeing them with their own children, prove to me that he and their mother were loving parents. Only after he was gone was I able to really look back and reflect on what I knew of him, and the experiences I had with him, through my own eyes. He wanted to be with us. For this lifetime, I will focus on the best of the best memories, because I am only living my story. Maybe he was a bad guy in someone else’s. Maybe he was a hero to others. In mine, I really loved my daddy. That’s it.

At his Celebration of Life today, there was a hearty gathering of family and friends, some who didn’t even know I existed. Many remembered me from my childhood, and I was genuinely happy to see those I knew well. Though the awkward mask-wearing stage of COVID presented a different kind of anxiety, everyone was kind and shared love for my father, and for me just because of him. My own little family did a great job of coping with their personal social anxiety, with the kids all finding ways to play, and my Allison by my side, meeting the characters I have described so many times.

Nearly every encounter comprised of someone asking me how my mother was, or if she still lived in Bridgton, or if she still worked at the diner, or where is Roland III? I received stories about my father and how he knew each person, my uncle Ervin made sure I saw everyone, and knew who they were, and I got to meet my niece and one of my nephews for the first time. My oldest child carried around my brother’s youngest child like they had known each other always. I’m not sure anyone knows where I live, what I do in life, or anything about me, really, but it was still such a worthy time. I’m thankful for Vicki, my stepmother and the rest for organizing such a humble yet rich memorial for my father.

After we made it back home, I sat in the screen house in our back yard, overlooking the pond full of tympanic bullfrogs, and hung out with my wife and the small urn of my father’s ashes. The breeze brought sweet, cool air across the apple tree beside us, and the giant robin – a key player in our backyard activities – hopped around, grabbing all of the bugs and worms the freshly mown grass revealed. Reflecting on the day, with some rare idle chat, we took space together. My life is exactly as it was always meant to be, and don’t I know it. I am truly thankful.

Legends of Lodila

So I have been working on streamlining Pallo’s origin story this semester, making sure to incorporate my personal goals into every project, and my Writing for Visual Media course final was a script treatment for a movie. That one project really helped me figure out how to choose which elements to include in Pallo’s part of the Lodila Valley/Land of Lo series.

I have definitely increased my focus and intention on manifesting my animated films, and learning how to animate – even just as a beginner – has brought so much more to the surface! As of now, my plan is to create “Legends of Lodila – Claviger of Flowers” as an introductory film for a series. Here is my final slideshow…I found a perfect name for the character-formerly-known-as Frances Greenbaum, Pallo’s best friend – Putri! I’ll share the story of her name in another post.

Practice animations and character designs abound during this two week break before summer semester starts!

Plans for Poppet

I’ve mentioned my children’s book, The Golden Pinecone, in a previous post, as well as my plans to revise the illustrations. I am currently working on a script for my midterm in one of my classes at SMCC, and will finish that – hopefully – by the end of the semester.

The goal is to create an animated holiday special that really represents the overall message of “Kindness is magic”, and showcase the kind of visuals that I have in my mind. Working out the redesign of my characters for this story will be a huge part of the adaptation, and I’m excited to work on it!

With my new Procreate/iPad combo, I have created a visual aid for my midterm project, here:

It still needs some work, but I really love the textures, making the background and landscape softer, almost fuzzy. I even figured out how to make my own brush for the willow leaves!

Procreate

Please know that I am foolish in so many ways, and that I do not expect people to “approve” of things I share my opinion about.

So many artists I know get very excited when they start using digital programs to create, and tend to overshare their process (again, my opinion only). I see incredibly talented analog artists often sharing digital work before it looks anywhere near complete, or strikingly different in quality than their previous work, with the intention to sell prints. I do understand the excitement, I promise I do, but as someone who was raised by an over-sharer, it sometimes makes me cringe when I see someone who is a fantastic artist posting something that truly does not represent them or their abilities yet, and trying to sell it. I know it seems judgmental, but I do hold out to see as they improve – and they do – and celebrate that success for them. I just hold a certain standard for my own art before asking someone to pay for it, and sometimes feel like people get swept away by the efficiency of it all.

I had a couple of cute line drawings that I made one summer, during a weekend of camping and debauchery, and held onto them with the intention of someday painting them in. Over the years, I would start to digitally color them, but never really liked how it was coming out.

When I invested in my iPad Pro, I decided that these two pictures were going to be the guinea pigs for me to get accustomed to not only the tablet, but the program Procreate that all of the digital artists around me were raving about. So, I started to work on them the way I would usually do in Photoshop in the past – creating the outlines, then coloring on the layers underneath. The brushes – oh, the brushes! – made what used to be a one-session creation into a two-week long experiment in textures, colors and opacity. Did I mention there is a LIGHT PEN?!

So, I’ve done it. I finished it – it looks and feels finished to me. It looks beautiful to me. Please let me know what you think – I would love some interaction on this blog!

Welcome, and thank you!

Having never been very consistent with online creative outlets, such as blogs and social media, I sincerely appreciate every “like” and “follow” that You gift me.

I recently committed to a digital upgrade by investing in an iPad Pro and Procreate. So far, I’m enjoying exploration in Brushes – there are far too many! I have been working on my first official creation in this format, and I’m so happy with it so far, I can’t wait to show you here.

For those of you who have just jumped on this random bandwagon, I will be posting my visual art, along with the origin or a story that goes with it. I am currently compiling material for a full length animated feature film for the Land of Lo, as well as writing a script and re-creating character design for a short holiday special, “The Golden Pinecone”, an adaptation of a children’s book I wrote many years ago. My main focus is animation, and converting my artistic style to digital in a way that I feel still represents my aesthetic – which, to this point, has been watercolor and ink, with bright colors, sharp contrast, and psychedelic slant.

I am writing the script in tandem with a script-writing class – very convenient! – and want to apply for an Adobe Creative Residency next spring, in order to fully realize a 25-30 minute animation on my own. So, please join me for the journey. I am very excited about what the next couple of years will bring for me, and would love to share the experience with You!

My face.

~P

Pallo

So, it’s time to introduce Pallo, officially. Since I’ve been making little practice animations with her, I feel like it needs to happen to start building context. Pallo is a character I created, inspired by two little girls – twins – I used to take care of in my nanny days. We were together since they were fifteen months old until they were four, and have kept in touch really well since. I was there for them learning to talk, go on the potty, hold a fork, drawing a face, on and on.

I would often record conversations, kind of like interviews, with the kids I would nanny for, to share with their parents for memories. Lots of terrible, but hilarious, knock-knock jokes, singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, asking their age and favorite color, things like that. When the twins started really talking more, I worked on them saying my name. I mean, after all, I was with them almost every day! So, I would record them whenever I asked them what my name was, in order to catch the first time. I can’t express to you how cute these recordings are…so, here is “The One”.

Isis and Naila say “Peri”….but really Pallo.

The way that Naila was so sure that “Pallo” was correct – just repeating it over and over until I pointed the mic at her and got it nice and loud – makes it one of the funniest and cutest clips I’ve ever captured. I became Pallo, and then I created her as a character.

Photo of marker and crayon drawing of Pallo.

Pallo has four arms, for extra hugging, and has a crown of flowers on her head. In the Land of Lo, where she lives, all creatures are a mixture of plant and ocean life, and Pallo is no exception. Her “ponytails” are actually large petals, and when she sleeps, white puffs (think milkweed or dandelions) of seed fly out of a hole in her head, and the petals spread open and up to guide the seeds safely onto the breeze. Pallo is Claviger of the Flowers, and it is because of her that flowers grow in the Land of Lo.

First four panel comic I created for Pallo’s origin. The background is Mount Abbas and Mount Moya, with Pavo the Prophet’s tower on the island in Lake Chitali in the distance. Squirrels played a big part in my time with the twins, so I try to include one whenever I can.

She is also very maternal, and adopts a band of misfits as she journeys through Lodila Valley on her quest. Isi and Nin are directly inspired by the twin girls who named her. Their origin story belongs in its own chapter, so I’ll save it. Pallo goes through many emotions on her journey, each creating its own story.

2013 version of Pallo, Isi and Nin. A couple of the first complete depictions of them.

Pallo’s look has evolved as I convert her into an animated character. I have added a texture to her skin, and defined a purpose for her “ponytails”, as well as adding some cool markings on her back, which you cannot often see. She wears the necklace of a Claviger (key holder) around her neck. I have given her little stubby legs for walking. She’s ready to be a star, now I just have to catch up. So, please stay tuned for more short animations as I learn to navigate my way through Adobe Character Animator and Animate to create as much as possible. Please follow me on Instagram to see some of the older posts, and the most recent, as I update that much more often. Drop me a DM to let me know you followed me because of this blog. Until next time…